The reception of the boat of the NGO SOS Méditerranée by France will “encourage the networks of smugglers” and “reinforce the problem”, according to the former Minister of the Interior Gérard Collomb.
Asked by Point On November 13, the former Minister of the Interior Gérard Collomb strongly denounced the docking of the Ocean Viking in Toulon, because it constitutes, according to him, a “breach, creating a precedent”.
“For me, this can only encourage the networks of smugglers for whom migrants are a source of considerable earnings […] To stick only to a reaction of sensitivity, one reinforces the problem more than one solves it, by creating a call for air”, he specified in the columns of the weekly.
The former interior minister also expressed on Twitter his disapproval two days earlier: “Beyond the emotion about the fate of people, the reception in France of the Viking Ocean marks a turning point in immigration policy in France. When in 2018 the creation of a hot spot in Toulon was considered, I opposed it with all my might and resigned.
The refoulement of several hundred migrants off the Italian coast has sparked a diplomatic row between Rome and Paris. On the evening of November 8, these migrants were not allowed to return to Italian territory, even though Rome had given its approval for three relief ships in the Mediterranean to dock in Italian ports.
The government of Georgia Meloni then allowed some – and not all – of the migrants to get off the dock, to the chagrin of Paris and humanitarian organizations. This volte-face by Rome provoked the ire of the French government, Paris denouncing the “unacceptable behavior” of the Italian authorities, “contrary to the law of the sea and the spirit of European solidarity”, according to a French government source quoted by the AFP.
On November 11, the boat of the NGO SOS Méditerranée operating off the coast of Libya finally brought the migrants to France, a first. An exceptional welcome, by “duty of humanity”, according to Gérald Darmanin. But in announcing his decision, the Minister of the Interior had indicated that as a form of retaliation, France had decided to suspend “with immediate effect” the planned reception of 3,500 migrants currently in Italy. The head of the Italian government had for her part denounced a French reaction “aggressive, incomprehensible and unjustified”.
On November 13, government spokesman Olivier Véran said that Paris had asked Europe “to decide very quickly on the follow-up to be given”. This one judges that “Italy discards its responsibility on its neighbors and its French friends”.
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